Exchange Information with Shared Parenting Experts: International Conference in Boston, May 29-30

The National Parents Organization (NPO.org) is sponsoring a group of experts on shared parenting. Some highlights from the NPO website, http://npo-icsp2017.org/ :

Research suggests that fully half of troubled children and adolescents derive from conflicted, separated and divorced families. The faculty will delve into the relationship between different types of post-divorce parenting arrangements and children’s subjective and objective outcomes, their attachment to parental figures, and specific issues such as age and developmental level, high conflict, domestic violence, and parental alienation. The conference offers the rare opportunity to interact with leading legal and mental health scholars from around the world on this important topic. The program will include plenary sessions, panel discussions, question and answer sessions, and break-out workshops.

Given the high prevalence of conflicted, separated and divorced families, this conference will be of great benefit to all varieties of child and family practitioners and scholars, including any who deal with family policy, family law, psychology, child mental and physical health, alienation, domestic violence or family dynamics This is an unusual opportunity to learn from so many distinguished scholars from Australia to Europe to North America, any of whom would qualify as a keynote speaker, all at one conference. Information on continuing education can be found in the Program.

Email info@sharedparentinginc.org for a pdf of the full program.

Registration and housing information: http://npo-icsp2017.org/registrationhousing/

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Most child support debt is owed by parents who cannot pay

The following excerpts are from Vicki Turetsky, Federal Commissioner, Office of Child Support Enforcement:

“Most child support debt is owed by parents who do not have sufficient income to fully pay their child support orders. Most debt is held by parents with less than $10,000 in reported income. An Urban Institute study of California child support arrears found that:

  • 80 percent of unpaid child support debt is owed by parents with less than $15,000 net income.
  • Over half of the arrears are owed by debtors with less than $10,000 income but more than $20,000 in debt.
  • Only 1 percent of child support debtors have net incomes over $50,000.
  • 70 percent of the arrears are owed to the government—to repay welfare costs—rather than to families.
  • 27 percent of the debt is unpaid interest.

Conclusion: The actual choice facing policymakers is between chasing after nonexistent or sporadic payments now and developing the potential for steady support over the long haul.”

Source: pages 3 and 4 of “Staying in Jobs and Out of the Underground: Child Support Policies that Encourage Legitimate Work” by Vicki Turetsky, Center for Law and Social policy (CLASP) Child Support Series March 2007, Brief No. 2.

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Reduce Family Court Conflict by Reducing the Amount of Money at Issue

When there is a lot of money at issue in divorce court, parents have reason to hire lawyers and then get locked into expensive court battles. High conflict in court can be reduced by reducing unrealistically high child support orders. Massachusetts took steps in this direction in 2014.

Existing methods for calculating child support are deeply flawed because they make hypothetical allocations of income to raising children, resulting in  divorce orders more than two times the actual cost of raising children. Real families adjust their total expenditures because the children change their lifestyle, but this is ignored by child support guidelines.

All this is explained in a fun and informative youtube video by Joe Sorge at DivorceCorp:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=196XCAXfqrI&feature=youtu.be&utm_source=Mailing+Lists&utm_campaign=e56d991e78-Shocking_Facts_On_Child_Support_3_23_2016&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_b5b1488f8f-e56d991e78-165851009

Did you watch the 15 minute video on a new way of thinking about child support?

 

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Child support guidelines are 200%-400% too high

A University of California professor shows that child support guidelines are 200%-400% higher than the real cost of raising children.

The study is based on thousands of households and it compares expenditures of families with 1, 2 and 3 children with those with no children, the control group. It also studies single parent households. It compares the marginal cost of raising a child (the real out of pocket cost) to the methods used in most states: average expenditures (divide all expenditures by number in the household) and the income-expenditures (IE) shares method. Both the existing methods are deeply flawed because they make hypothetical allocations of income to raising children. Real families adjust their total expenditures because the children change their lifestyle, but this is ignored by child support guidelines.

All this is clearly explained by Joe Sorge at DivorceCorp: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=196XCAXfqrI&feature=youtu.be&utm_source=Mailing+Lists&utm_campaign=e56d991e78-Shocking_Facts_On_Child_Support_3_23_2016&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_b5b1488f8f-e56d991e78-165851009

When setting child support amounts, should priority by given to encouraging both parents to be actively involved with their children?
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Three Ways Child Support Tears Families Apart

… instead of achieving its intended objective of ensuring adequate support for children.

  • “The system creates debtors prisons because the payments are excessive for low income obligors and payments do not stop during unemployment. Excessive support orders decrease the amounts actually collected.
  • The system doesn’t acknowledge the economic realities of divorce – expenses of maintaining two households are much higher than for an intact family.
  • The system overemphasizes financial contributions while devaluing other support. Most obligors are actively involved in their children’s lives, and they incur substantial expenses related to their children.”

These points summarize an article by Attorney Joseph Cordell:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joseph-e-cordell/3-ways-the-child-support-system-rips-apart-families_b_8821130.html

 

 

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Many jailed due to unrealistic child support orders

There is new evidence of the damage caused by unrealistic child support orders. A Washington Post article on Nov 15, 2015 says:

“Of the 2.2 million people incarcerated in the United States, about half are parents, and at least 1 in 5 has a child support obligation. For most, the debt will keep piling up throughout their imprisonment: By law or by practice, child support agencies in much of the country consider incarceration a form of “voluntary impoverishment.” Parents like Harris, the logic goes, have only themselves to blame for not earning a living”

The Post reports that this may change under new rules proposed by President Obama. The new rules would reclassify incarceration as “involuntary impoverishment.” Some Congressional republicans oppose the new rules.

For the full article: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/for-men-in-prison-child-support-becomes-a-crushing-debt/2015/10/18/e751a324-5bb7-11e5-b38e-06883aacba64_story.html

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NPR: Child support is root of violent crime in Baltimore

Leana Wen, the dynamic health commissioner of Baltimore says about “Safe Streets”, a group working to end street violence in Baltimore: “Initially when I was meeting with Safe Streets, I said, ‘What is the one type of support we can help you with?’ And I thought they were going to say trauma debriefing, mental health support. And they said child support.”

Dante Barksdale a key supervisor at Safe Streets “explains that most of the guys coming to work for the program are over 30, which means they’re likely to have children. Many owe upwards of $50,000 in child support. The Safe Streets jobs pay about $28,000 a year. A couple months after they start working, the state starts deducting child support from their paychecks, leaving them with very little.” (Source: National  Public Radio program entitled “Crime Interrupts A Baltimore Doctor’s Reform Efforts” August 7,  2015, 3:25PM ET.)

For the full NPR story:

http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/08/07/430339547/violence-interrupts-a-baltimore-doctors-reform-efforts

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When does child support interfere with good parenting? When is it excessive?

Kimberly Seals Allers writes in the New York Times about “redefining what child support really is, for our family .”  She recently petitioned the Family Court in Queens to forgive over $38,000 that her ex-husband owed in child support.

Ms. Allers writes: “My ex-husband has always given our children his time, whether he had money or not. He currently makes payments to me directly when he is able. But his arrears have accumulated during years when he was unemployed or underemployed and either paid less than the monthly payment ($600) granted when we divorced, or nothing at all. So when our children were young, after our separation and early in our divorce, I negotiated new currencies such as additional time when I needed child care, meal preparation, haircuts and even helping with home repairs, instead of acting as if a cash payment was all he had to offer our children. The look on their faces when he came to pick them up was more than worth it.”

The full article is at: http://mobile.nytimes.com/blogs/parenting/2015/04/19/forgiving-38750-in-child-support-for-my-kids-sake/?_r=0&referrer

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Reject CT CS Commission’s Recommendations!

On January 27, 2015 the Legislative Regulation Review Committee of the Connecticut General Assembly meets to consider the child support recommendations submitted by the Commission on Child Support Guidelines. We call on the Committee to reject the Commission’s recommendations. Show your support! Attend the session on Tuesday, January 27, 2015, at 10:00 AM in Room 1E of the Legislative Office Building, 300 Capitol Avenue, Hartford, CT.

Background
Connecticut needs family-friendly child support guidelines. Connecticut’s Commission ignored Connecticut’s 2005 law defining the Best Interests of the Child, which says that Best Interests include strong and continuing connections with both parents.

In a 2014 letter to Connecticut’s Commission on Child Support Guidelines, Department of Social Services Commissioner Rodrick L. Bremby writes: “emotional, social and educational support as well as financial support is imperative to the growth of a well-rounded child.” He further states that the Guideline percentages of income for low income obligors are unrealistic and “counterproductive to fostering the parent-child relationship as it may lead to uncollectable child support orders and drive noncustodial parents to underground economies and alienation from their children.”

Call to action
We call on the Committee to reject the Commission’s recommendations because the recommendations:

  • Price poor obligors out of the family equation. The Commission rejected proposals to lower percentages for low income obligors, cherry-picking data prepared by their own expert to arrive at this conclusion.
  • Increase Guideline percentages for middle and high-income obligors. This is contrary to evidence indicating that the actual, marginal costs of raising children is significantly below, not above, Guideline amounts.
  • Put those paying alimony at a significant financial disadvantage. The Guidelines would in future ignore income from alimony when calculating child support.
  • Ignore the fact that the totality of court-ordered payments necessary to hire court-ordered professionals (e.g., GALs, AMCs, therapists), plus court-ordered child support, is putting individuals, many of whom are women, into a situation where it is impossible for them to meet the court-ordered obligations.
  • Fail to adequately consider substantial data collected in Massachusetts on this subject, data that resulted in the adoption of Guidelines with the rebuttable presumption of shared parenting in that state in the summer of 2013.

Conclusion
Connecticut’s Commission is proposing family-unfriendly Guidelines, perpetuating a winner-takes-all system that is in no child’s interest. Massachusetts recognizes the interconnection between child support, parenting time, and financial responsibility and, as such, actively encourages shared parental responsibility, both emotional and financial. Other states have adopted a similar model, or are close to. Connecticut’s Commission has not considered the substance of the reasoning leading to the changes in Massachusetts but certainly must do the same.

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